Church Rules for people over 70 years old

I was told that the church gives a lot of leeway to people over 70 years old for example, no need to eat meat on Fridays during Lent, if you do not go to Mass on Sunday for a good reason there is no need to confess that, etc.
Does anyone knows about this rules? If yes, can the rules be obtain from the church in writing?
Thank you for an answer.

Whoever told you those rules was stretching things, to put it mildly.

Meat on Fridays during Lent

From the USCCB:
Fridays in Lent are obligatory days of complete abstinence (from meat) for all who have completed their 14th year.

You’ll note that it doesn’t give an upper age limit.

Attendance at Mass

From the Catechism:

The precept of the Church specifies the law of the Lord more precisely: "On Sundays and other holy days of obligation the faithful are bound to participate in the Mass."117 "The precept of participating in the Mass is satisfied by assistance at a Mass which is celebrated anywhere in a Catholic rite either on the holy day or on the evening of the preceding day."118

The Sunday Eucharist is the foundation and confirmation of all Christian practice. For this reason the faithful are obliged to participate in the Eucharist on days of obligation, unless excused for a serious reason (for example, illness, the care of infants) or dispensed by their own pastor.119 Those who deliberately fail in this obligation commit a grave sin.

Anyone is excused for a serious reason. No one is excused simply because they are older.

The only rule that I know of that exempts older people is one that you didn’t ask about:


From the USCCB:
Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are obligatory days of universal fast and abstinence. Fasting is obligatory for all who have completed their 18th year and have not yet reached their 60th year.

Fasting on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday is only required for those between the ages of 18 and 60 but abstinence on the Fridays of Lent is for all over the age of 14. There is no upper age limit.

All Catholics are obliged to attend Mass on Sundays unless prevented by a good reason. Poor health or the inability to drive oneself could be good reasons but age alone is not.

The rules on fast and abstinence are available on the USCCB website.

From the Eastern perspective, the purpose of fasting and abstinence is to humble the flesh.

If your flesh is already humbled by sickness or other infirmity, the fasting is mitigated to a certain extent (see the confessor about this), and more emphasis should be placed on prayer and almsgiving, as these three things go together.

Please note that pregnant and nusing mothers are forbidden to fast or abstain, period.

I don’t see how pregnant and nursing mothers would need to be excused from abstinence laws. Abstinence simply means no meat. A pregnant and nursing mom could certainly go without meat for one day a week. In fact having a fish or vegatarian meal at least one day a week would be quite healthy for such a woman. Even fasting could be done, that is three meals with nothing in between, but I agree in this case it would not be obligatory to abstain, but I always did my best to eat only three meals with something in between only if necessary. As long as she is getting her daily caloric intake and nutrients there is no reason why she can’t do some sort of modified fast.

My (now grown) children long ago informed me that, because I never bothered to inform them they were not required to adhere to the Lenten regulations prior to being 14 (like any good mother, I told them from the youngest of age that OF COURSE they had to fast and abstain – we are Catholics!), I am therefore not allowed to take advantage of any old-age dispensation. So, I will fast and abstain until I’m dead, I guess. There’s a generation of grandchildren to serve as role model for now . . . :wink:

the only dispensation I ever heard of was that fasting requirement ends at age 60, but I don’t think 2 days a year of no snacks is going to kill me. MIL at 88 still abstains on all Fridays of the year, and fasts on all weekdays of Lent, very old school, and although she is infirm kneels when possible, and upright (no slouching on the pew) when she can.The only other perogative we claim is turning down our hearing aids in the guitar Masany individual of any age can ask their priest for a dispensation from any discipline if there is need
sorry spacing does not appear to be working

I don’t see how pregnant and nursing mothers would need to be excused from abstinence laws.

**You’re not required to see how the fasting and abstinence practices work in Eastern Churches.

I’m simply describing the way it is. Period.**

Church regulations in this area give a “baseline” but as long as the mother to be is not putting her health or the child’s health in danger one can always do more. I was anemic during part of my last pregnancy and I recall almost passing out at mass during my first pregnancy because I was at a relative’s house and did not eat a full breakfast before going to mass. Don’t get me started on the severe emesis that meant when I could eat and keep something down I ate, no matter what it was or what time.

Even a modified fast may not be good for a pregnant or nursing mom and meat might be necessary so that is why the church, in her wisdom, has allowed for that modification in the lenten fast/abstinence.

Above age 65 * the infirmities of age qualify one for the Anointing of the Sick.without a specific illness.*

Hi Joe (Lady Astor and Winston send their regards :))

There is a provision in the Code of Canon Law re the elderly fasting before Holy communion .

“The Eucharistic fast has now been reduced to one hour - abstaining from food and drink (except water). The time is computed up to the actual time of reception. The sick, even if not confined to bed, and those actually engaged in caring for them at the time, need not observe any period of fasting. The same applies to the elderly, according to the new Code of Canon Law # 919. 3.”

That’s taken from the article here

The Canon itself doesn’t stipulate any certain age (it would end up being discriminatory if it did. Illnesses and frailty are not totally age-specific). Here’s the exact wording from the Latin-English edition of THE CODE OF CANON LAW ANNOTATED by the University of Navarra’s and St. Paul University’s faculties of Canon Law (1993 Edition, Wilson & Lafleur):

919 §3

The elderly and those who are suffering from some illness, as well as those who care for them, may receive the Blessed Eucharist even if within the preceding hour they have consumed something.

A confessor is also able to grant the penitent (any age) a dispensation re the preparatory 1hour fast before receiving Holy Communion.

I don’t know if there is any other stuff. These are simply the ones I know of.

…Really hope your health is OK.

God Bless

Hi Fabiola.

I apologize. My comments were intended for the original poster - who I hoped was in good health. I thought that the OP was Joe Kelly. So the previous post should have been directed to you.

(* Joe Kelly , I still hope you’re in good health too :slight_smile: )



Please understand the Church has to provide guidance to people all over the world, most of whom simply don’t have access to the tremendous resources we do. The Church also has to provide guidance to people in our own country who may not be as blessed financially as many of us posting on this forum are, and for whom fasting and abstinence may not always be a matter of choice.

In cases such as these, the Church has found that demanding that women who are pregnant or nursing (who desperately need to eat to provide for the nutritional needs of themselves and their babies) fast or abstain simply violates the Law of Charity. As Medical Science has found that women who are pregnant or nursing need all of the nutrition they can get their hands on, and as meat is among the best available nutrition there is, to require even healthy women who are pregnant or nursing in good economic situations to fast and/or abstain from the most nutritious food could not only harm their babies, but could be counterproductive as far as their “walks with Christ”.

Remember, the Church’s laws on Fasting and Abstinence were made for our benefit, NOT the other way around. As our Lord Himself put it, “The Sabbath was made for Man, NOT man for the Sabbath.” and as our Lord also put it, “I desire MERCY and not SACRIFICE.” Our relationship with God is supposed to be just that, a RELATIONSHIP that brings us into UNION WITH GOD and with each other, NOT just a bunch of LAWS we have to obey.

I hope this answers your questions and resolves your dilemma.

Your Brother in Christ, Michael

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No Need for apology. If it weren’t for repeated & compulsive editing, my sincerely BAD typing would render most of my posts unreadable & incomprehensible.

Sorry about the badly played guitars. Maybe it’s a GOOD THING I’m deaf in one ear! BTW, they’re one reason I went to the TAC when I CRAWLED (& was carried) back into Church (NO guitar Masses in the TAC). Another is they let me bogart one of the front pews for almost 5 years (& say my daily prayers from INSIDE the sanctuary)…

You’ll be glad to know the Maronites have welcomed me in. NO guitar Masses there - Praise the Lord!

Have a good Evening/Morning.

Your Brother in Christ, Michael

Thanks for the good wishes. I was puzzled as to how Winston and Lady Astor got in there. Thought maybe I had had a senior moment. :smiley:

Hello Fabiola123
to answer your question …if you ask your priest or parish representative (pastoral council)
to buy a catechism book it will have rules in there.A Simple prayer book also has some rules(I bought mine from the back of my church).In any case the priest should be able to answer your queries and dont feel embarrassed its his job.
You are right there are some special dispensations for elderly infirmed and their carers.
I wont go into specifics here.Good luck to you and God Bless

I haven’t been on this forum for a very long time. I lost my login ID and PW. Today I just located the info and I’m glad. The discussions have really gotten better over the past year!

I heard about the elderly rules changing and I was told it is dependent upon the parish you belong to and how strict your Pastor is with them.

You should talk to your Church Pastor. I think all the information on the Internet is helpful but it comes down to what you feel comfortable doing.

I think you did Joe … that Lady Astor and Sir Winston comment was intended for you. Have a look at page 3 of the joke thread- posts 34 & 35

…Don’t feel bad…I had a much more significant senior moment by thinking you were the OP
:doh2: … This might be one of the reasons they don’t give me the important jobs or let me play with firearms :).